Notorious Russian mob to leave US jail

Vyacheslav Ivankov was arrested in the US in June of 1995. He was sentenced to 115 months in jail, which is equal to about 9,5 years

Legendary Russian criminal authority Vyacheslav Ivankov known as Yaponchik, or The Little Japanese, may leave the American jail already today, a spokesman for the jail in Pennsylvania told ITAR-TASS. Last week it was said the notorious Russian mob would be released on July 14th. Ivankov has spent almost ten years in jail on allegations of extortion and illegal entry to the US by means of a fictitious marriage. Spokesman for the high security jail Norbal Vasques refused to comment the delay. It is not ruled out that it is connected with special agreements between Russian and American law-enforcement agencies.

Last week the Moscow Office of the Public Prosecutor said special services had achieved an agreement that Ivankov would be handed over to the Russian authorities immediately after his sentence in the American jail is over. The criminal is accused of murdering two citizens of Turkey in a Moscow cafй.

Spokesmen for the jail refused to comment on the details of deportation for 64-year-old Ivankov, who is considered to be the head of the Russian mafia. According to the procedure, the criminal is supposed to be moved to an immigration jail to await the deportation there. Yet, it is not excluded that rules will be broken for Yaponchik and US Marshals will convoy him to an airplane directly from jail.

Vyacheslav Ivankov was arrested in the US in June of 1995. He was sentenced to 115 months in jail, which is equal to about 9,5 years. However, US authorities were ready to release the Russian mob 11 months earlier for his good behavior. A fight occurred in jail in April, Ivankov took part in the fight too. After that it was scheduled to release the criminal only in 12 months.

The American court found Vyacheslav Ivankov guilty of extorting $3.5 million from an American company and arranging a fictitious marriage for the illegal entry to the country. According to the information from Russian law-enforcement agencies, Ivankov and his associates extorted money from people, who had wired from Russia to the US several million dollars of Russia's Chara Bank depositors. During the Soviet era, in 1981, Ivankov was sentenced to 14 years in jail for robbery. He spent ten years in Siberia and then in 1991 was released due to the efforts taken by several influential people in Russia.

In 2000 the Moscow Office of the Public Prosecutor brought up murder charges against Ivankov. Investigation officers believed it was Ivankov, who had shot three Turkish citizens in 1992 in one of Moscow restaurants. Two of them were shot dead, the other one was hospitalized in severe condition. At that time the investigation did not manage to prove Vyacheslav Ivankov's implication in the crime.

Vyacheslav Ivankov was born in 1940. He started his criminal career at the end of the 1960s - in the beginning of the 1970s. He was jailed for the first time at age 26 for pickpocketing. He has been obsessed with stealing since early childhood. He started stealing when he was a 14-year-old boy, he did not work and was ready to take up any risky endeavor for the sake of criminal authority.

In 1981 Yaponchik was jailed again for 14 years, but was released in 1991. After that he spent less than a year in Russia and left to the US with a filming crew of the famous Russian director Rolan Bykov. To legalize his stay in the States, Ivankov married an American woman. As soon as Yaponchik appeared in New York, the number of assassinations of Soviet immigrants abruptly increased in Brooklyn. As a rule, they were the people standing in Ivankov's way.

FBI was watching Yaponchik from the very start, but federal agents did not manage to arrest the Russian mob until 1995. Ivankov's friends came to ask his help in a financial matter. They said two entrepreneurs, closely linked with Chara Bank, received a large sum of money from him and then disappeared in the US. Yaponchik asked the businessmen to return the money. Vyacheslav Ivankov was arrested on the allegation of extortion. In 1997 an American court sentenced the Russian crime boss to 9 years and seven months in jail.

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Author`s name Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey